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On 28 November 2016, at about 1656 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), a China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-243, registered B-5821, operating flight MU-777, departed Kunming, China, for Sydney, New South Wales. On board were 14 crew and 213 passengers.

The flight crew descended from flight level (FL) 370, advised cabin crew of the descent, and illuminated the seatbelt signs. The cabin crew manager announced to the passengers the descent into Sydney and to fasten their seatbelts as the seat belt sign was illuminated. The cabin crew checked whether the passengers fastened their seatbelts.

During descent, the flight crew diverted 5 NM from the flight route due to thunderstorms. Once clear, they received instructions to descend via waypoint BOREE.

At FL 230, about ten minutes after the seatbelt sign was illuminated, the aircraft experienced severe turbulence lasting about 30 seconds. The flight crew commenced the turbulence checklist following the quick reference handbook. As the turbulence had stopped and the flight instruments and engine indications were normal, the flight continued to Sydney.

Prior to the turbulence, the cabin crew manager was at the back of the cabin checking seatbelts. They observed four passengers without seatbelts. One passenger was standing and reaching for their baggage. During the turbulence, the cabin crew manager struck their back on an armrest. A cabin crewmember fell to the ground. Two passengers without seatbelts struck their heads on the ceiling.

After landing, a cabin crewmember informed the flight crew there were eleven people injured. They sustained head, neck, hand, back, and abdominal injuries. The aircraft sustained minor damage to the interior cabin above rows 42, 64, 65, and 68.

This incident is a reminder of the importance of fastening seatbelts when the seatbelt sign is illuminated and to listen to cabin crew instructions to minimise the chance of injury.

Aviation Short Investigations Bulletin - Issue 58

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General details
Date: 29 November 2016 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 13:45 ESuT  
Location   (show map):near Sydney Airport Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: New South Wales Occurrence type: Turbulence/windshear/microburst 
Release date: 24 March 2017 Occurrence class: Environment 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: Minor 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Airbus 
Aircraft model: A330-243 
Aircraft registration: B-5921 
Serial number: 1402 
Operator: China Eastern Yunnan Airlines 
Type of operation: Air Transport High Capacity 
Sector: Jet 
Damage to aircraft: Minor 
Departure point:Kunming, China
Destination:Sydney, NSW
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Last update 18 April 2017